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Obama hails 'critical' Afghan vote

Afghan election officials count ballot papers at the end of polling in Kandahar on April 5, 2014US President Barack Obama congratulated Afghanistan on its landmark presidential election, saying it was “critical” to securing the country’s democratic prospects and continued international aid. The ballots, which could usher in the country’s first democratic transfer of power, “represent another important milestone in Afghans taking full responsibility for their country as the United States and our partners draw down our forces,” Obama said in a statement. “These elections are critical to securing Afghanistan’s democratic future, as well as continued international support.” Afghan voters braved threats of violence to line up outside polling stations en masse — with a final turnout expected to exceed 50 percent, or seven million — to pick a successor to President Hamid Karzai for the first time since the US-led invasion in 2001.

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